2007-08-02 / News

Junior women's sailing regatta promotes learning on the job

By Adrienne Downing

Lauren Mellon, at left, and Kelsey McDonough sail upwind during the NBYA Junior Women's Sailing Championships. Photo courtesy of Ken Legler Lauren Mellon, at left, and Kelsey McDonough sail upwind during the NBYA Junior Women's Sailing Championships. Photo courtesy of Ken Legler Over 100 young women flocked to the Conanicut Yacht Club on July 16 and 17 for the Narragansett Bay Yachting Association's Junior Women's Championships.

The two-day sailing event, held in conjunction with the Conanicut Island Sailing Foundation, consisted of an all-day clinic on Monday and a regatta on Tuesday.

Ken Legler, sailing coach at Tufts University, headlined a group of top coaches from the area who were offering instruction in the 420, Laser Radial and Optimist classes.

"The purpose of this was twofold," Legler said. "It was to celebrate the top young female sailors in the area and to have them in an environment where they could have a great learning experience."

He became involved with the event after reading about the regatta on the NBYA website and emailing them to offer his services.

"We are very fortunate to have a coach of his magnitude come here and work with these girls," Kim Ferguson, a CISF board member, said.

Legler said that it is important for the girls to have their own event because it allows them to build skills that will benefit them in open competition.

"It is tough for girls sometimes because they can be forced into a position where they always end up being the crew," he said. "An event like this ensures that they get the opportunity to skipper."

The lack of wind during the clinic on Monday allowed him to work with the girls on handling adverse currents.

"We had a horrible moon tide, about three knots of wind and one knot of current," he said. "I worked a lot on how to play the current."

Islander Alice Toll is a threeyear veteran of the clinic and made the switch this year from Optimists to 420s. She finished third in the Optimist division last year and said the coaching helped her enhance some of the finer points of the new boat.

"Ken really focused on spinnakers and trapeze harnesses, which are the most difficult parts of 420s," she said.

Wind conditions improved on Tuesday, allowing several Jamestowners to put up a good show in the regatta.

Natalie Salk and Hadley Neil took first place in the 420 class, Kelsey McDonough and Lauren Mellon finished in twelfth place, Toll and Ailsa Petrie took a sixteenth place finish and Molly Welsh and Erica Lush came in twenty-first.

Emily Gowell sailed to a third place finish in the Laser Radial division and islander Adele Huffine came in sixth place.

The Optimist division was the largest of the three groups with 43 boats. Nine islanders, including Katja Sertl, who finished in eighth place, India Johnstone, Julia Gowell, Emma Kate Vogel, Rachel Bryer, Maey Petrie, Caroline Lippincott, Emily Kallfelz and Islay Petrie made a good showing for the Jamestown group.

"The regatta was even more important than the clinic," Legler said, "because when you learn a lesson in a race it is etched in. If you do something right and it works, it sticks with you. By the same token if you do something dumb in a race, you are going to remember not to do it next time."

Coordinator Cory Sertl said she enjoyed seeing the progress some of the girls made in just two days.

"These girls really have the best of both worlds here. Those who are not as adventurous really have an opportunity to shine here and those who go and compete in everything are able to sharpen their skills for the next event," she concluded.

For more information on NBYA events, visit www.nbysa.org.

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